The dial has been turned up on the summer heat and the sunflower fields in Raleigh are standing to attention. I don’t think there is a flower that can elicit as much joy as a sunflower.
Not just for their bright yellow personas, but the way they keep us connected to awe: How do they know to follow the sun like that? They are just tuned into the power of living the Circadian rhythms. Sunflowers remind us of a Maori proverb,
“Turn your face to the sun, and shadows follow behind you.”
Time to turn your face to the sunflowers in these fields in Raleigh.
How lucky are we that the North Carolina Museum of Art and Dorothea Dix Park have partnered to make Raleigh the City of Sunflowers in 2021? It is an interdepartmental city project involving Raleigh Water; Office of Sustainability; and Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources.
Keep reading as we share a uniquely awesome way to experience both on the same day!
Dorothea Dix Park Sunflowers
The 5-acre Sunflower Field at Dorothea Dix Park used to be along the Neuse River Trail and was a sort of hidden secret. In 2018, they moved the fields to our city park so they could have views of that beautiful downtown Raleigh skyline.
That’s better for you as the old place was a little cramped. The Dorothea Dix Sunflower fields now has ample space for you to spread out a picnic blanket and enjoy the sunflowers at sunset.
They also have a cool hammock area set up in the pine forest on the edge of the sunflower field. Scores of hammocks are strung between the trees for you to swing in. You’ll love this touch of serenity in the shade as it does get hot here.
We visited the sunflowers at around 8am on a weekday morning. Thankfully, there were little people around, but the sun wasn’t in the most ideal position for photos. Afternoon/sunset is a better time as the sun will be shining on the fields and the skyline behind them.
There are walking paths between the sunflowers. PLEASE stick to the paths and protect and preserve the sunflowers! Do not pick them either!
The paths were a little slippery due to rain when we visited so wear appropriate shoes.
There are signs up on the perimeter of the field offering sunflower facts as well as how this initiative is helping the environment and promoting sustainability.
You’ll see its beneficial pollinator services immediately with the presences of hundreds of bees and the odd butterfly (the bees won’t harm you but be careful). Raleigh is a member of Bee City USA and celebrates National Pollinator Week in June.
These sunflowers are not planted just for your pretty Instagram picture, but for a particular purpose. Each year, the City harvests the sunflowers to produce gallons of biodiesel for tractors, trailers and farm equipment.
Pre-pandemic, each year a Sunfest Festival is held with live music, games and food trucks to celebrate the magic of the sunflower fields.
North Carolina Museum of Art Sunflower Field
One thing about the two major sunflower fields in Raleigh is they are paired with beautiful views and other things to appreciate while visiting.
The sunflowers at North Carolina Museum of Art also feature a magnificent background of artwork and sculptures. The sunflowers at NCMA feature artwork and sculptures as a background to viewing.
Like Dix Park, the 2.5-acre sunflower field was first planted in 2018. It is located near the intersection of the Blue Loop and Meadow trails. You will see it as soon as you walk into the Museum grounds from the car park.
I actually like this sunflower field best because of the colorful cosmos and zinnias wildflowers sharing the fields with the sunflowers. It adds a perfect artistic flair.
New for 2021, the Museum Park has a second sunflower planting located below the Ellipse.
There is also plenty of space in the museum grounds to enjoy a picnic while visiting the sunflowers or trails you can enjoy on a short hike.
Watch Our Video of the Sunflowers
Press play below to watch this short video of the sunflower fields. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more Raleigh videos.
OTHER PLACES TO SEE SUNFLOWERS IN RALEIGH
Raleigh is surrounded by farms that also offer their own sunflower fields (and a few other attractions).
Check out their websites and social media platforms for updated information on peak blooming, viewing times and extra events.
Here are a few to check out:
- Pace Family Farms in Clayton, Johnston County. They also sell their own produce and have movie nights through the summer months
- Phillips Farm: I believe they happen in the Fall at Phillips Farm in Cary. Their website is not up to date for this year. Phillips Farm has a a weekly Farmer’s Market and other fun events through the year.
- Lazy Hound Farm in Zebulon. They also have sunflower hayrides, animals and a playground.
- Hill Ridge Farms in Youngsville. You can pick sunflowers here and you get a free sunflower with admission. They also have hay rides, a playground, splashpad and food trucks.
I loved reading a few of the sunflower facts in Dorothea Dix Park. Here are some of them for you:
- Phytoremediation is a process whereby the sunflowers break down and remove contaminants in the soil, water and air!
- Sunflowers are heliotropes. Young flowers face east in the morning and follow the sun during the day. As they age, the mature sunflowers slow down until they eventually just face the East.
- Sunflowers can attract up to five times more pollinators because they warm up faster than westward facing plants.
- The sunflower plant is native to North America (I never knew that).
- The head of the sunflower is a combination of a thousand tiny flowers.
- A sunflower can self pollinate to reproduce. The stigma can twist around to reach its own pollen and it makes a clone of itself.
- The tallest sunflower on record was produced in Germany and grew over 30 feet tall.